The 3 Main Advent Colors Are Full of Meaning

Advent Candle Colors

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If you've ever noticed that advent candle colors come in three main shades, you might have wondered why that is. Each of these candle colors—purple, pink, and white—represents a specific element of spiritual preparation that believers undergo leading up to the celebration of Christmas.

Advent Candle Colors

  • The purpose of the season of Advent is to prepare one's heart for the coming of Christ at Christmas.
  • During these four weeks, an Advent wreath adorned with five candles is traditionally used to symbolize different spiritual aspects of getting ready.
  • The three Advent candle colors—purple, pink, and white—symbolically represent the spiritual preparation that believers undergo to prepare their hearts for the birth (or coming) of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

The Advent wreath, typically a circular garland of evergreen branches, is a symbol of eternity and unending love. Five candles are arranged on the wreath, and one is lit each Sunday as a part of the Advent services.

These three principal colors of Advent are packed with rich meaning. Enhance your appreciation of the season as you learn what each color symbolizes and how it is used on the Advent wreath.

Purple or Blue

Purple (or violet) has traditionally been the primary color of Advent. This hue symbolizes repentance and fasting. The spiritual discipline of denying oneself food or some other pleasure is one of the ways Christians show their devotion to God and prepare their hearts for his arrival. Purple-violet is also the liturgical color for the season of Lent, which similarly involves a time of reflection, repentance, self-denial, and spiritual readiness.

Purple is also the color of royalty and the sovereignty of Christ, who is known as the "King of Kings." So, purple in this application demonstrates the anticipation of and reception of the coming King celebrated during Advent.

Today, many churches have begun to use blue instead of purple, as a means of distinguishing Advent from Lent. (During Lent, Christians wear purple because of its ties to royalty as well as its connection with grief and, thus, the torture of the crucifixion.) Others use blue to signify the color of the night sky or the waters of the new creation in Genesis 1.

The first candle of the Advent wreath, the prophecy candle, or candle of hope, is purple. The second is called the Bethlehem candle, or the candle of preparation, and it is also purple. Likewise, the fourth Advent candle color is purple. It's called the angel candle, or the candle of love.

Pink or Rose

Pink (or rose) is one of the colors of Advent used during the third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday in the Catholic Church. Similarly, rose-pink is used during Lent, on Laetare Sunday, which is also called Mothering Sunday and Refreshment Sunday.

Pink or rose represents joy or rejoicing and reveals a shift in the season of Advent away from repentance and toward celebration.

The third Advent candle color on the wreath is pink. It is named the shepherd candle or candle of joy.

White

White is the Advent candle color representing purity, light, regeneration, and godliness. White is also a symbol of victory.

Jesus Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior. He is the light come into a dark and dying world. He is often depicted in the Bible wearing radiant, intensely white robes, like snow or pure wool, and shining with the brightest of light. Here is one such description:

"I watched as thrones were put in place and the Ancient One sat down to judge. His clothing was as white as snow, his hair like purest wool. He sat on a fiery throne with wheels of blazing fire" (Daniel 7:9, NLT).

Also, those who receive Jesus Christ as Savior are washed of their sins and made whiter than snow.

The Christ candle is the last or fifth Advent candle, positioned in the center of the wreath. This Advent candle's color is white.

Spiritually preparing one's heart by focusing on the colors of Advent in the weeks leading up to Christmas is a great way for Christian families to keep Christ the center of Christmas, and for parents to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas.

Sources

  • The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd ed. rev., p. 382).
  • The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms (Second Edition, Revised and Expanded, p. 58).
  • Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies.